Up on the Downs
Views from The Downs. Photo credits: Explore Kent
By train, by bus, by car or on foot the North Downs Way lies just south of London making it easy to get to and from for a wide range of activities. With visitor attractions and country parks dotted along the route there are plenty of interesting places to see and visit. You don’t need to walk the entire trail, you can walk a short section or use the trail to link between towns and villages or take a country walk around a specific place of interest.
The North Downs Way presents a diverse and unique landscape, following a chalk ridge that winds over hills and grassland, passing through valleys and ancient woodland and along the coastline to the Dover coastline. The route passes through many protected sites of specific scientific interest and is home to a number of rare species (notably orchids and butterflies) hard to find anywhere else in the UK.
Pilgrims and World Heritage
Much of the trail follows the legendary Pilgrims Way. Originally pilgrims travelled from Canterbury to Winchester to pray for St Swithun who was buried at the cathedral. The route was then used in reverse as pilgrims journeyed from Winchester to the world heritage site around Canterbury Cathedral and St Augustines Abbey to pray at the shrine of Thomas Becket, as a result there are many churches and links to pilgrims who would have travelled these parts in Medieval and more recent times.
Fortifications, Palaces and Defences
Aside from the cathedrals you will find archbishops’ palaces as well as numerous stately homes and gardens close to it. There are also Neolithic sites, Roman and Napoleonic forts, medieval castles and WWII fortifications. The North Downs can be considered the ideal natural defence having protected London from invaders from across the Channel. The views from the scarp across the High Weald are spectacular, as is the countryside through which it passes.
For routes, walks and to plan your visit please visit the Official Trail Website or their Facebook Page>
The North Downs Way National Trail follows the chalk scarp of the North Downs for 153 miles from Farnham in Surrey to Dover in Kent.
The North Downs Way offers walkers spectacular scenery, picturesque villages and glorious rolling countryside as the trail passes through the hills and chalk grassland on the Folkestone Downs and onto the White Cliffs overlooking the English Channel.
The North Downs Way is one of only 15 designated National Trails in Britain and has something to offer everyone. Passing through stunning and diverse landscapes and through the protected landscapes of the Surrey Hills and the Kent Downs the North Downs Way makes for a great place for a family day out, a countryside walk, ride, a really good ice cream or a life-changing long distance walk.
· National trail- well maintained and signposted- no need for maps and compasses!
· Easily accessible for a day trip from London and South East England and Europe
· Free to access, healthy outdoors enjoyment for all ages
· Loads of places to visit with parking food, drink and accommodation
· Unique landscapes and wildlife in protected settings in chalk grassland, hills, forest and coastline
· Cultural and Historic Significance- pilgrims tracks, Cathedrals and ancient churches